Friday, June 30, 2006

Malcolm and Paul take a break from shredding

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Glorious day yesterday and today so it was good for dealing with all the prunings we have accumulated. The shredder is easy to work and we now have two earmuffs and two eye protectors and plenty of garden gloves.

It should be good stuff to make compost with next week and to spread around.

A great many peach buds

peach buds
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Peaches don't grow well in this climate we hear.

And we missed summer pruning so it is too late to prune them now. But it is going to be a wonderful sight when they all come into flower in the spring and hopefully we will get some fruit as last year wasn't very good.

Some of the fig cuttings

fig cuttings
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
I don't know who is going to pot these up and sell them in a couple of years' time but here are a few of the cuttings from just the Adriatic figs.

We have lots of other cuttings which we will store in sawdust and plant in September.

Prolific macadamias

green macadamias
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
If you lift the branches this is what you see. Looks good to me.

This is parrot damage to the macadamias

parrot damage to macadamias
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
On the ground under the eastern side of the macadamias are these shells. The damage is caused by Australian parrots which live in our native bush nearby.

The Deans have suggested we cut the green macadamias off so we get them before the parrots. Just from that tree. So we have.

It wasn't rats because they can't make such a big hole and their hole is made where the nut meets the stem.

Deirdre and the Adriatic fig

Deirdre and Adriatic fig
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Pruning the figs has been a learning exercise and I think we may have pruned some of them too hard. This is the last one to get done, the Adriatic which is the last one to fruit.

In the foreground are the blackcurrants. There was quite a lot of borer in some of the figs so we are going to put kerosene down the holes and putty them up. Had to saw off some quite good branches though.

Paul spreads compost round apples

compost round apples
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Our Canadian wwooffer Paul is seen here in the apple orchard. It has been quite an excercise trying to get the kikuyu grass out by hand. We understand kunekune pigs would get it all out but they would also take the comfrey and the nasturtiums and borage and everything else I have planted.

Paul was very patient and put in a lot of work, first weeding, then spreading compost and lastly shredded wood from the shredder. The apples have virtually no new growth on them and the only attention we needed to pay them was to make sure their metal stakes weren't rubbing on the trunk.

One of the pear trees in winter

pears winter
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
There are a lot of fruit spurs on the pear trees. They look good and have needed minimal pruning. But having said that, you can probably see a branch or two that is crossing over. No disease on this one anyway.

Frost 25 June 06

Frost 25 June 06
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
We have had several quite reasonable frost here and the hills behind Otaki have snow on them.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lettuces and dalmatian peas and a timer for watering

7 great iPhotos
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
We have now got a timer on the hose so the glasshouse can be watered regularly. It makes such a difference. Nobody thinks of watering during cold wet weather and the glasshouse still needs it.

The dalmatian peas grew poorly with thin brittle stalk before. Now they are vigorous with leaves of a good colour and lettuces and sage is thriving. I have dug in some bokashi buckets as well and all we have to do is to perfect the timing of the watering.

Mustard in the glasshouse

7 great iPhotos
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Our advisors have told us to grow mustard in the glasshouse because when you plant in tomatoes in the spring you can grow them without disease.

The comfrey and nettle tub/blueberries

7 great iPhotos
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
We managed to get this free tub from a dye firm in Levin and Bryan put a tap in the bottom for us.

Well, I put nettles and comfrey leaves and filled it up with water and left it. Unfortunately I didn't know I had to stir it so when I used it to water the celery the other day it was frothy. Seems stirring is the caper, and of course the comfrey won't grow for a while now. Nettles will, and they are a good source of iron.

Since blueberries don't absorb iron if the pH is too high, I also put it on the blueberries, together with pine needles to sour the soil. Blueberries need a pH of between 5 and 6 and the reading on our pH meter is much higher still. This summer I am determined to water them enough. We will get sawdust for them too as well as blood and bone to restore nitrogen.

Later that day on 24 June the rainbow came

7 great iPhotos
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
This speaks for itself!

Winter weather and a bad gutter

7 great iPhotos
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Yes we have had some downfalls of rain and this is from our backdoor. We will have to do something with that gutter. Underneath it I have herbs. We had the coldest day I can remember in the North Island the other day. I had two pairs of trousers and a polyprop top on, two pairs of socks and we had the fire going all day on full.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Deirdre's dinner and something about food

Deirdre's dinner
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
We certainly eat well here. You may be able to spot the persimmon which comes with my salad. Grated beetroot and carrot with lemon juice are a favourite round here and my daughter left us some smoked salmon.

And let me tell you. My sister Jill stayed for a few nights and during that time we had a lunch party. She and I shelled hazelnuts and chestnuts. She made a hazelnut meringue and we made a kumera and chestnut soup.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Persimmons are plentiful now

4 great iPhotos
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Well these don't look too brilliant but we have to take them before the skin goes too black (don't know what this is). Anyway they ripen nicely fairly quickly and I enjoyed them with my fish dish last night though Malcolm didn't fancy it. The birds sometime get under the netting and have to be chased out. They are selling for $8 a kilo at the local organic shop so we are delighted to have them to eat.

Today we spent ages in the garden as the weather was once again quite beautiful, calm, warm and sunny. I took out the pepinos which neither of us likes (anyone fancy a plant?) and prepared the bed for two cranberries, one more prostrate than the other. I also tested the soil for pH everywhere and found that it is fairly neutral. It varies between 6.7 near the blueberries which are sittng in pine needles to 7.2 and not much more. The soil certainly doesn't need liming if the meter is accurate.

Malcolm started pruning the feijoas next the vege garden and this will hopefully will let in some more sun. We also filled the new tub with the comfrey leaves which have been sitting for ages in a bucket of water and stinking to high heaven. My son in law Bryan drilled a hole in the side of the tub and now we have a wonderful tap. So I could water the garden with comfrey water.

We also have our worm farm back, which is super. We put it with our own mickey mouse tyre set up and that means it is full. I used the worm water, well diluted I might say to feed the citrus, which are also looking great. These had some chicken manure earlier and the mandarins, oranges, lemons, are all going to be great. Not sure the kumquats will be too marvellous.

Pruning is about to take place. A friend from the Tree Crops Association will come next Wednesday to give us a demo of pruning figs, feijoas and hopefully almonds. We hope to get a lot done before we go to Australia on 13 July, where I have to talk to various meetings on complementary currencies and money systems generally.

We also have an automatic timer on the tap so that we can water regularly in the glasshouse now. Already the mustard which I have planted there ( with the contents of many bokashi buckets underneath in one section) is looking healthier. Not sure about the structure of the glasshouse...

There will be so much mulching to do when the pruning starts in earnest. That will test the mulcher. And there is more compost to make.